Review: Belgian food at Belgo, Soho
Style Points: 3/5
Belgo Soho has only been open a couple weeks, but they are certainly not a new family of restaurants. The original location opened invChalk Farm in 1992vand they have a few restaurants spread throughout the city.
When my husband and I visited the new Belgo location in Soho we were given a quick tour of the restaurant. The whole place has quite the industrial feel with wood, brick and stone effect walls. The kitchen is open on either side of the restaurant allowing customers to see the food being prepared as they pass by.
Diners in Belgo Soho
Surprisingly there are a lot of seats despite looking pretty small from the outside. Some of their most special seats for larger groups are their themed caves downstairs. The themes include beer, fishermen, 1992 and monks. Which sounds like a strange mix, but is the perfect explanation of Belgo who have plenty of beer (including some brewed by monks), mussels and was founded in 1992.
Would I Want Seconds?
Belgo has an extensive beer list with approximately 60 options. 60 types of beer! We tried to get a variety that included some specialities. I’m not a huge beer fan, so I tried the Delirium Tremens (£5.75). While my husband gave the Westmalle Trappist Tripel (£6.15) a try. Then because I’m not a huge beer drinker and because he’d heard of it before we got the Floris Framboise (£5.35) a raspberry flavour beer that was so fruity you’d barely know it was beer! I’m certainly no beer connoisseur but it was nice to see such a varied list with something to everyone’s taste.
After sitting down it didn’t take us long to pick out a starter. There was a Meaty Sharing Plank (£13.95) that included salami, ham and dill pickles. That’s right, giant, wonderful dill pickles! For the record I love dill pickles and the ones I find in stores here tend to not be quite right unless I get them in the Kosher or Polish sections…and even then they are never jumbo sized.
These pickles took me straight back to my pre-teen years when we would buy giant pickles at the roller skating rink. My husband and I both really enjoyed the platter, including the pâté which neither of us would order under normal circumstances.
One of the Belgo specialities is their moules or mussels for those of us not bilingual. Neither of us had really had mussels…and certainly never been served a pot still in the shells, but as it is something Belgo is known for we thought we should give it a go.
All the pots are priced the same at £13.50, but we went for Mariniere which was just traditional with cream - because cream never hurts! I thought I was going to have the mussels but after a couple I could tell they weren’t for me. They were quite salty, which I think for normal people is fine, but for me was just overpowering and not to my taste. So I traded with my husband, who said after adding the lemon and getting stuck in they were quiet tasty. However, a whole pot was too much for him (and certainly would have been too much for me) as neither of us are that big on seafood.
Meaty sharing platter
Thankfully, the other dish we ordered was their Rotisserie Chicken in a Sticky Chili and Kaffir Lime flavour (£12.50) which was much more to my taste. The flavour was amazing and it is half a chicken, so there is plenty to eat. The chicken was nice and moist as well, which I think with the cooking method is an accomplishment as those rotisseries can get quite hot. We had also ordered a side, more out of curiosity than anything else and got the Cheesy Beer Croquettes (£3.95). They were gooey and tasty, but you only get two so unless you aren’t getting the bigger meals maybe not so worth it.
Finally, we come to dessert. Now at this point we were both stuffed to the point of pain, but on the tour at the beginning of the evening they pointed out the area of the kitchen where the crepes and waffles are made to order. So my mind was wandering to a crepe all evening. So when the waitress brought the dessert menu we had to give one a try. They let you build your own and choose either waffle or crepe and then a flavour of topping and a flavour of ice cream. So we went with a Crepe with white chocolate sauce and Belgian chocolate ice cream (£5.50). I’m sad to say I was slightly disappointed. The ice cream was amazing and the white chocolate sauce was very nice…but the crepe was a bit chewy and cold. Now this could be because the ice cream is inside the crepe or it could be because it sat a bit too long…I’m not sure. But I think had it been warm I would have loved it.
Crepe for dessert
Could I Afford Seconds?
All in all it’s not the cheapest place to eat. But considering it’s location (right by a ton of theatres and in the middle of Soho) and the amount of food you get, I think the prices are pretty fair.
We made our meal more expensive by adding the sharing plank, but we would have been full without it as it would actually be sufficient as a starter for 3 or 4 people. There are plenty of nibbles or sides to build your own starter that would be more reasonable with the food you’ll have.
Also if you’re like us and new to mussels it might be better to fill up on the sharing platter and split a pot of mussels so it’s not too much all at once. But don’t skip the ice cream for dessert - you can get a bit more of it on it’s own for the same price as our crepe - because it is so decadent and yummy.
Belgo beer menu
Overall it was a fun experience. I liked the decor and despite only being open for 10 days when we went the tables were consistently full while we were there and lots of pots of mussels were coming out!
I do wish they had a less intimidating start for those of us new to mussels, but if I was already used to them I think the flavours of the pots are interesting and varied and would provide an interesting meal. I don’t think you can go wrong with the chicken, so if in doubt go for that! They do also have burgers, steaks and even lobster…but when a place put moules on their awning and points out the rotisserie on the tour then I think those are probably the dishes they’ve put the most effort and imagination into.
If I do decide to dip my toe back into the mussel filled waters, then I’ll definitely be heading straight to Belgo to try the Chorizo mussels!
Beer cave theme area
Address: 29-31 Old Compton Street, London, W1D5JR
Closest Tube Station: Leicester Square